As the Michigan women”s track team gears up to host tomorrow”s non-scoring Michigan Intercollegiate meet, the team continues to be led by April Phillips. The junior from Fraser has been a tear this season, having already broken her own school record in the weight throw in three consecutive weeks. Even with the immense success, Phillips still puts the team”s goals to the forefront.

“We have done well so far,” Phillips said. “Indiana is a national competitor, and we had a tough one-point loss to them. We have had some home meets and will have one more this weekend before going to Virginia and then Notre Dame. There will be at least five Big Ten teams at these away meets, so we have all been using these home non-scoring contests as confidence builders.”

With home meets against teams from the local Michigan area and competitors that most veterans on the team have seen before, the Wolverines have used the non-scoring events as high-scale practices.

“It is a chance to get your event down, to PR (personal record), and to stay relaxed,” Phillips said. “We try to use our home-court advantage to build confidence going into meets with other conference teams.”

Phillips has been enjoying her success this year while understanding that there is always more work to do.

“April has been having a great year and is consistently improving,” assistant coach Anne Takacs said before the Indiana meet. “She has great work ethic, and always knows that she can do better than she has done.”

In fact, that is a motto Phillips constantly reminds herself of in an effort to shy away from complacency.

“I am never totally satisfied and always want to do better,” Phillips said. “I am three feet off qualifying for nationals in the shot-put. I know I can throw that far, I throw that far in practice. When the competition gets going, sometimes I hurt myself by trying too hard.”

Phillips attributes her success this season to understanding that her practice performance does not always translate into competition.

“I am trying to relax, and going slowly. I have been treating home weekends as practice at staying calm,” the junior said.

There is also an interesting distinction that Phillips makes between the events that she participates in. The weight throw is only a five-year-old event for the Michigan women”s track team, while other schools have been competing in the event for longer periods of time. Because of this, Phillips puts less emphasis on the records that she has won in the weight throw. There are other competitors in the conference that are better than she is at the weight throw. Phillips continues to view the shotput as her main indoor event. She has been practicing the shot since high school, as opposed to the weight throw that she learned in college. Phillips currently ranks ninth in the nation and first in the conference in the shotput.

The hammer, an outdoor event, is also a strength for Phillips. Last year she qualified for nationals and set the school record in the event.

“The weight throw is not an Olympic sport,” said Phillips. “But the hammer throw is, and so I use this indoor time spent on the weight throw, getting ready for outdoor season and the hammer.”

Besides a stand out in her sport, Phillips excels in the classroom, where she is an engineering major.

“Sometimes people do not realize that athletes” success at Michigan is really more remarkable than most other schools because we have to balance both athletics and tough academics,” said Phillips.

Phillips also points to her diversity in terms of ability to partake in all throwing events as a positive as opposed to other schools which have athletes that specialize in only one event.

“I have to practice for more events, and spend more time studying than others I compete against. I feel very proud of where I am and what I can do, both on the track team and in academics,” said Phillips happily.

For now Phillips” sights are set on the indoor conference and national championships, but she is also excited for some unexpected goals that are now beginning to seem reachable.

“When I was five years old I wanted to go to the Olympics,” said Phillips. “I still have a lot of time. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it. It was a goal even when it was unrealistic, and now it is getting clearer and clearer.”

Track and field goals are most important to Phillips presently and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

“Twenty-nine is a female track and field athlete”s physical peak,” Phillips said. “I will look for a job when all of this is done, but I am a little lost after track and field. I would love to teach or coach when this rollercoaster is through.”

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